Vikki Ryall Reword Interview
A new online innovation created in Australia is helping protect thousands of young people from becoming victims of cyberbullying.
Online tool Reword was launched last year and works by identifying cruel or intimidating language in real time, prompting users to reconsider their potentially hurtful message or social media post before hitting send. Similar to grammar check functionality, a red line appears through inflammatory words to highlight bullying behaviour, encouraging online users to reconsider their choice of words.
A joint initiative between headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, and communications agency Leo Burnett Melbourne, the tool was created as a way to curb the more than 463,000 instances of cyberbullying amongst young Australians every year.
Reword's success has garnered overwhelming results, with over 700,000 downloads of the tool since its launch in March 2016. Six weeks after launch, data showed that young people responded to the red line, rephrasing 87 per cent of their messages. Amongst users during that period, bullying behaviour per user decreased by an incredible 67 per cent.
Vikki Ryall, Head of Clinical Practice at headspace, said: 'Young people can act impulsively, not realising the effect their actions or words can have. One of the last aspects of neurological development is the ability to moderate actions according to potential consequences, so this type of behaviour is not uncommon. Reword's success comes from asking young people to stop and think before acting."
Currently the tool is only available as a Google Chrome extension, so now the creators are calling on the public to support a crowdfunding campaign to create a mobile application. In turn, the app will support the 96 per cent of young people who access social media on their mobile devices.
'In the last year, we've had such a positive response to Reword, and we've seen how it is possible to impact and stop negative online behaviour in real time. With most young people owning mobile devices, there is a clear demand for a mobile version", notes Ms Ryall.
The makers of Reword are looking to raise $150K via crowdfunding site Indiegogo to develop an app that will make the technology mobile compatible.
To support the crowdfunding efforts visit: https://igg.me/at/Reword
Interview with Vikki Ryall, head clinician at headspace
Question: What is Reword?
Vikki Ryall: Reword is a real time alert for online bullying, acting as an educational tool to develop a young person's moral compass when they first become active on social media.
Question: What inspired you to create Reword?
Vikki Ryall: The technology for reword was created by Leo Burnett Melbourne in partnership with headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation. The team at Leo Burnett are firm believers that they can use their creativity and technology skills to contribute to social philanthropy, and combatting online bullying is something we all feel passionate about. We all have friends with children, or have children ourselves, who are grappling with the pressures and nuances of a social media profile. Not only do we worry about our young people being bullied, we worry they could actually be the bullies.
Question: How does Reword, work? Can you talk us through how this anti-cyberbullying technology works?
Question: Are you able to share the results you've seen in curbing the problem of cyberbullying?
Vikki Ryall: Reword's success has garnered overwhelming results, with over 700,000 downloads of the tool since its launch in March 2016. Six weeks after launch, data showed that young people responded to the red line, rephrasing 87 per cent of their messages. Amongst users during that period, bullying behaviour per user decreased by an incredible 67 per cent.
Here is also a case study video: YouTube
Question: What are some of the common insults kids use which have been detected by the tool?
Vikki Ryall: Top insults we've been picking up are -bitch', -ugly', and -I hate…'
Question: How many people are using Reword?
Vikki Ryall: We've had over 700,000 installs of the Google Chrome extension to date.
Question: How can we get more of Australia using Reword?
Vikki Ryall: We've had a really positive reaction to Reword since we launched the extension in March 2016, although some schools and parents have expressed that the software is of limited use to them until it works across phones and tablets too. We know that 96% of young Australians use their mobile devices to access social media so this is absolutely our focus now. We've just launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money so we're able to build an app and expand the technology so more of Australia can access the software.
Question: How would you define cyberbullying?
Vikki Ryall: Bullying is intentional and repeated negative behaviour by one or more people over time that is directed towards another person who does not feel able to defend themselves. Cyber bullying is a form of bullying that uses technology (e.g. text messages, email and social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram or YouTube), anonymously or not, to carry out the behaviour.
Question: How can we get Reword?
Vikki Ryall: Reword can currently be downloaded in just two clicks from www.reword.it when using the Google Chrome browser.
Question: How can Australians support Reword?
Vikki Ryall: Currently the tool is only available as a Google Chrome extension, so now we're calling on the public to support a crowdfunding campaign to create a mobile application. In turn, the app will support the 96 per cent of young people who access social media on their mobile devices. Please visit https://igg.me/at/Reword and contribute now, then share the campaign with your social networks to spread the word.
Interview by Brooke Hunter